Live long and inspire

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Leonard “Spock” Nimoy, 83, of Star Trek fame, died last week. Photo credit/Wikimedia commons/Gage Skidmore

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Leonard “Spock” Nimoy has died. Even as I write that sentence I have to reread it a couple of times.

It doesn’t seem possible. His end is both logical and illogical.

Nimoy was bigger than this life. He, not William Shatner, said the first line ever in the 1966 pilot of the “Star Trek” television show. He sang “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.” Nimoy voiced Galvatron in “Transformers: The Movie” and reprised the role in recent series releases. He directed “Three Men and a Baby” and two “Star Trek” films.

Nimoy narrated many, many documentaries for free. Then there were the two albums he made, the cartoons voiced, the support for the American Cancer Society, the creation of the Nimoy Foundation and all of the conventions he went to for the fans.

He didn’t seem to be a man. A man couldn’t accomplish all he did. He was a mythical Vulcan creature—the literal stuff of legends, just like his characters.

He is the reason I watched any of the “Star Trek” franchise.

His acting was more measured and less over the top than that of Shatner. He was the voice of reason in a fictional world that operated on unfathomable premises of space travel and bizarre worlds filled with alien life. Amongst the stars, he brought us back down to Earth, and at the same time made us believe in the improbable.

I practiced separating my four fingers in a ‘V’ for hours night after night, following the closing credits of my first Star Trek movie. I didn’t understand the cultural significance of the hand motion or of the phrase “live long and prosper” (LLAP). I was too young. I wasn’t ever a ‘trekkie,’ but I knew there was something magical about the man with the cold face, straight lined bangs and pointed ears.

Nimoy was different even in a science fiction world that redefined different, and being different was something that his following could identify with. Through his character, Spock, he taught nerds, geeks and freaks to revel in our uniqueness. Being different was cool in spite of whatever social judgments might come.

But don’t sell him short. Nimoy’s influence stretches past the breadth of his career as an entertainer.

According to a L. A. Times article, Nimoy also convinced fans to quit smoking after he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in January 2014. He had quit smoking some 30 years before.

He encouraged Twitter followers to try meditation instead of nicotine.

The documentaries he narrated for free inspired children and adults to learn. He inspired people to be better.

It was Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, who envisioned a utopian world free of money and greed. He believed that we, as a human race, could be a beacon of light and reason in the world, and it was Nimoy who so fully embodied that belief that he changed the world around him.

If there’s a lesson to be taken from his life it’s that we are bigger than ourselves; our actions can strip the limitations from our all too human lives.


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